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Hard Discussions With Your Children

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Hard Discussions With Your Children

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I have two young children: a 6-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. My understanding of my role as a parent grows as much as my children do. Every new milestone they reach also means there are new things I need to teach them. When they began to crawl I had to teach them not to touch the light sockets. When they began to walk, I had to teach them not to walk into danger. This will continue for the rest of my life. I call my parents for guidance to this day.

Our children will learn and mature in many areas in which they’ll no longer need our teaching. But until we know they have gained the skills needed, training continues. Training is our main responsibility. We have to train our kids to love and follow God the Father and Jesus Christ. We train them to be caring, loving and giving. We train them to navigate the culture they’ll face, even after we’re gone. The success of our training all hinges on our ability to train them in one aspect of their lives. This one thing will have an effect on their ability as a Christian son or daughter and in all other aspects of their lives. We have to train them to make good choices about sex. We have to train our children to analyze situations then discern the right decision to make.

God wants us to train our children in His way of life: “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:7 Deuteronomy 6:7And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
American King James Version×
, New International Version). We should be passing on the knowledge of His statutes and laws. The knowledge of God and His way will help our kids make good decisions.

Society has devalued what is meant to be shared between one man and one woman in God’s holy marriage covenant.

One of the most important areas to talk to our kids about is sex. For some of us it can be an uncomfortable conversation. If it doesn’t come from us someone else will bring up the subject. Whether at school, church or somewhere else, the subject of sex will come up among our children’s peers.

The ability to make right decisions in this area of life is so important for our young people. This topic may be an easier conversation for some people than for others. It all depends on how we were raised and the relationships we’ve had with our own parents. But we have to talk to our children about sex because society has cheapened what God made for good.

Sex is a way of expressing love between husband and wife. This is made plain in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for her . . . that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies . . . For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:25-31 Ephesians 5:25-31 [25] Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; [26] That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, [27] That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. [28] So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself. [29] For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church: [30] For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. [31] For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
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Yes, sex is what God designed for creating offspring, but expressing love and unity is also the purpose. God’s intention for sex has been obscured, and we must make that clear to our children. God has an incredibly important, special place for sex, and that place is within marriage.

Many in our culture see sex as a fundamental human right or as just another bodily function. Society has devalued what is meant to be shared between one man and one woman in God’s holy marriage covenant. Our culture teaches that sex is no big deal as long as two consenting adults are involved. The easy access everyone has to pornography cheapens sex and takes away from the deep intimacy God intended to be shared between husband and wife in sex. What’s wrong with this thinking? This casual approach to sex creates negative, relationship-hurting side effects.

David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, and Gabe Lyons, founder of Q, recently addressed this in their book Good Faith: “Instead of intimacy and emotional depth, sex any way you want it leads to anxiety, depression, loneliness, and insecurity. For some sex is no longer worth the trouble. Anything more than a one-night stand or porn on demand requires a relationship, and the cost of a relationship is simply too high” (p. 126).

This is how society in general views sex and that view is growing more and more. It’s simply a bodily function that can and should happen anytime we feel like it, and if you do it this way, you can avoid real relationships that can get messy.

This is not what God ever wanted for His children. God wanted us to connect in the way He designed because He knew what was good and right for us. God gave specific guidelines on when we can engage in sexual activity, and that is between a husband and his wife. We were designed to have desires, but we also need to practice self-control by being committed in marriage to that one person—our spouse. Knowing the strength of our desires, Paul wrote to Timothy, a young leader of the Church and said, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22 2 Timothy 2:22Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
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Paul also wrote to the Corinthians, who were dealing with sexual sin in the congregation: “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18 1 Corinthians 6:18Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body.
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There are passages in the Bible warning us to refrain from sex outside of the design of marriage. But the Bible also shows there is a time when sex is completely acceptable and good within marriage. From the beginning, in the book of Genesis, God intended that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 Genesis 2:24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
American King James Version×

God intended for two people to come together in marriage to share in a level of intimacy that isn’t shared with anyone else.

A few years ago I read a book by Meg Meeker called Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know. Meeker talks a lot about the relationship she had with her father. She shared some of the talks and lessons they had that helped her to have strength when dealing with young guys who wanted to engage in sex before they were married. She says that deep down daughters want their fathers to give them rules and expectations. They are looking to their father for protection from harm. According to Meeker, daughters want permission to stay chaste and to have their parents’ support in developing a strong set of morals: “What she [your daughter] wants to know from you is what the rules are. When is it appropriate to have sex and why? That’s it. If that is all you ever impress upon her, it’s good enough . . . Reiterate to her that sex isn’t a simple bodily function—it is powerfully linked to her feelings, thoughts, and character. Tell her that a lot of what she hears and sees about sex is simply wrong. Keep it straightforward, loving, and respectable” (p. 95).

This understanding is much deeper than what your children will hear in society. Sex delves into a level of intimacy deeply connected to feelings and character. It’s much more than a bodily function, and God designed it to be so.

The same goes for our sons. We should train them to love and respect our girls. They need to know that they have power to exhibit self-control, but it’s the easy way to give in and have sex before marriage. We need to train them to be man enough to wait.

I’ve been doing my own research as well. My children are still young, but I want to be prepared for the teen years. I want to know how to raise my children to make good decisions, especially the decision to save themselves for their future spouses.

I have talked to a few families who have raised children into their 20s who have made good decisions, including the decision of abstinence. The common thread I’ve heard from successful parents has been open communication—straightforward, no beating around the bush, open conversations. This is hard for some people, but these discussions have to happen. We have to communicate exactly what our expectations are for our children. We can never assume our kids will “just know” not to engage in sexual activity. Tell them that oral sex is unacceptable too. God wants them to be pure. Their future husband or wife wants them to be pure.

Our children also need to know that we are there for them and that we’re in their corner. The ability to turn down a sexual encounter takes a whole lot more inner strength than giving in. They need to know they have us as allies in the fight.

Meeker points out this fact: “Let me put it this way. If you don’t want your daughter to be sexually active in high school, you need to tell her, you need to teach her. Otherwise, she will be. Popular culture trains our daughters for a life of promiscuity” (ibid., p. 122). This is so true. Our kids will engage in these conversations whether it’s at school or even with church friends. Conversations like this need to begin with us, because we can provide a godly perspective. We can provide truth! I don’t want my children to hear about sex from a peer. I want to have a healthy, godly discussion with them so they can hear the truth and the right expectations from my wife and me, not from someone who has as many questions as they do answers.

We need to give our children the power to say no. They should understand that they will have desires and they are not alone in that. The key is to control those desires. Everyone has to ask themselves, “Do I want to follow God or give into the temptation that can so easily ensnare me?”

The other side of the coin is we need to not make sex seem evil, which could affect their relationship with their spouse after marriage. I have close friends who have had trouble in their sex lives after being married because sex was presented as being so evil that it was hard to make the shift in understanding that this is what God intended for them to share with their spouse. Sex is not evil. Society’s twisted understanding of sex is evil. Sex the way God designed it is a wonderful blessing. This message has to be part of our training. Our teens need to understand that sex is right, good and pure for couples who have been united by God in the marriage covenant.

I have seen the slipping of society’s morality since I was a teenager. I’m in the process of preparing for my kids’ teenage years. What I see in successful parenting is that constant, straightforward communication is necessary. Our children need our involvement in every aspect of their lives. They need to hear what we have to say about certain topics, and they need to hear our expectations. We have to give them the right tools to make good choices. Sometimes what they need is simply our involvement and making sure they know that what they do with their lives is important to us.

If mistakes have been made and, if our children have already engaged in sexual relationships, we can show love and continue to encourage them to repent and strive for purity from here on out. They aren’t tainted forever because of their mistakes. God can and will forgive any sin when repented of. Showing love and support will only give our children the confidence to make better decisions the next time.

What should we do?

• Be the first to bring up the subject of sex. Tell them how it works. Tell them that God intends for sex to be good in the proper context, and tell them what the Bible teaches about acceptable sex.

• Give them your expectations. You should say, “I want you to wait to have sex until your wedding night.” Don’t beat around the bush. Set the bar for them. Tell them you are there for them to help them succeed.

• Revisit the topic. Ask what their friends are saying about sex. Ask if they have any questions. Ask if they doubt anything you have told them about it. Listen.

Our job as parents is a big one. We need to train our children to make good and right decisions. We have to train them to analyze situations and prepare for situations they may find themselves in. Once they discern a situation they need to have the power to make the right choice. We must teach this skill. If we do, they will have the ability to wait for their future spouse. They will have the power to go against what society tells them about sex. If we can’t pass on this skill, there is a culture out there that is counter to God’s way of life and will train our children for us. But that training is not what leads to life. That training leads to a life of confusion and pain and eventually death. Let’s talk about what makes us uncomfortable. Our children need us to. They want us to. They need to have the strength now so they will be able to then teach it to their children.